Jonathan Coachman was on the Monday, 1/22 edition of Busted Open Radio, and discussed why he left ESPN, what it’s like working for Vince McMahon, his new gig at the Golf Channel & more.
You can read a few transcribed highlights from Coachman’s interview below and watch the show in the above player; Busted Open airs live every weekday from 9am-12pm EST.
Jonathan Coachman on ESPN bringing WWE back into the mainstream:
I feel a lot of pride. When we decided to push the envelope a little bit, I got a call from the office and they said ‘can you help us’. That’s one of the biggest criticisms of Vince over the years is he always felt like the superstars are all we need. These days with social media, you need crossover all of the time. They realized that. There is no more crossover at the time than ESPN.
I’m very proud of the fact that we not only got a segment every week on Sportscenter, but it became the highest rated segment on social media. We created a dropdown on ESPN that when you go there today, it’s right there next to the NBA, NFL, WWE is right there at the top.
Coachman comments on journalism being dead:
I got in trouble when I tweeted this. I said ‘journalism is dead as we know it. Anybody that wants to go to college to be a writer and write for the Washington Post, stop right now, because your career will never take off’. If you don’t entertain me, I’m turning the channel. Entertainment needs to be the #1 priority. That’s what I told my bosses at ESPN. This is entertaining. Who cares where the eyeballs come from?
Coachman reveals why he left ESPN:
They dropped the ball. They could have done so much more. Every single project I’m about to start doing, I pitched to ESPN, and they said no to. It was very frustrating near the end. I said to my boss ‘you are so shortsighted on what we need to be doing, that it’s incredible to me’. The night before Summerslam 2016, Conor McGregor fought Nate Diaz for the 2nd time. I said to them I will go to Vegas, cover the fight, then fly to New York, cover Summerslam, and put both stories into a package to celebrate the biggest weekend in combat sports. My boss said ‘can’t do it. Nobody’s gonna want to watch that. I’ve already sent 3 cameras to preseason football.’ I said you got to be kidding me. When I was getting ready to leave, I went to his boss and asked if this idea ever came across your desk. He said ‘No. We would have absolutely ran with that.’
Coachman reveals his favorite Raw moment involving him:
After The Rock left, Eugene and I were having our thing. Rock called and threw the idea around to make an appearance, since we were in San Diego and he was in the area. So we snuck The Rock backstage, no one knew he was there. The plan was Todd Grisham was going to interview Eugene, I would cut a heel promo, and as Eugene walks to the back, Rock’s music hits. Rock was very giving if he thought it was the right thing to do, and he thought this was the right thing to do. This was his idea, so am I gonna say no? Hell no I’m not gonna say no to this. So we sneak Rock in, Eugene walks back, and I got goosebumps all over my body, because I saw the crowd come unglued. It was also the only time I ever insulted The Rock back.
What it’s like working for Vince McMahon:
He liked me a lot. For that, I was very close to him. He’s very difficult to be around sometimes, but there’s no-one else I’d rather work with. Part of the reason I was able to be at ESPN for almost 10 years is because what I learned from Vince, and that’s business comes first, you never burn any bridges, and you do what’s always right for the business. You also show up. The one thing that Vince taught us was you show up. I’ve actually seen him fire talent because they went out on an autograph session on Tuesday, and saw a blizzard coming to their hometown, they went home, and then couldn’t make the TV taping. The one thing you do in this business and for Vince is you show up.
He was also the orchestrator of an incredible rib on me in North Carolina that I was arrested and jailed. When he really likes you, that’s what he does to show you. He’s very difficult to work for. He demands excellence. He is very demanding. He always doesn’t make the right call, but when you do TV 51 weeks a year, it’s hard to make things right every single time and make it hot. As far as leadership goes, I don’t know if there is a better leader, because you always know which direction you’re going. It may not always be the right direction, but you know which direction you’re going.
There was no waste of time proposing ideas to him. He loves hungry talent. If you don’t want to sit on the sidelines, come prepared and pitch him ideas. Take The New Day for example. These are three guys who’s careers were basically over, and here they come with this act, and Vince signed off on it. He is a guy who you better be prepared to talk to, don’t stumble over yourself and have your thoughts together.
He will die on the road. There will not be a Vince McMahon who sits at home and watches the show. That’s just who he is. If you have a baby, you want to watch that baby grow. That’s just who he is.